In addition to being a prototypically-likable Canadian, Doug Stephens is also one of the world’s top thoughtleaders on the future of retail. Basically, I take advantage of our current geographical distance so I can steal as many of his ideas as possible without him driving down and punching me.
Thanks for not punching me yet, Doug!
When Doug writes about a retail topic, you should really listen, or if you’re me, try to steal his ideas. Today, he put out a typically great article about how retailers are trying to compete against The Borg (aka Amazon) in precisely the wrong way – by thinking in terms of retail, instead of something much more innovative.
What’s particularly fascinating about all of these innovations is that, as with Amazon Web Services – Amazon’s most profitable business division – each has the potential to generate revenue (over and above simply selling Amazon products) by becoming a service platform to other businesses. If Amazon for example is able to build a best-in-class, on-demand courier network for its own parcels, there’s little to stop it from opening the service up to other companies. Or if its Style Code Live show is a hit, there’s no reason that it couldn’t become a paid marketing platform for products outside Amazon’s assortment.
In other words, every innovation that Amazon brings to the market becomes yet another node in their network. Unlike Macy’s, Walmart or Target, Amazon is not an industrially formed empire so much as a digitally developed ecosystem aimed at ultimately connecting everyone, everywhere to everything.
Doug is usually ahead of the curve on retail thought leadership, and this is certainly no exception. He’s engaging in the systems analysis critical to strategic foresight, and sees how each of Amazon’s moves fits into a larger initiative for the transformation of the world, and therefore the Amazon conglomerate. And if you think you’re just going to compete against one part of that system – good luck. It’ll be like a mapping company just trying to do competitive intelligence against Google Maps without seeing any of its other ventures.
Go follow Doug’s blog and you’ll learn a bunch more.